Meredith Mitchell and every other four-year letterwinner under Andy Landers has graduated from UGA.
Dec. 18, 2011
Date: Monday, December 19
Tipoff: 3:30 p.m. PT
Event: Las Vegas Hoiday Hoops Classic
Location: Las Vegas, Nev.
Arena: South Point Arena (4,600)
* Georgia Bulldog Radio Network (AM 960 The Ref in Athens and 103.7 FM from Gainesville) Jeff Dantzler - play-by-play
* First meeting, although UGA and GU were in the "Sweet 16" of the 2010 Sacramento Regional
* UGA is 5-1 agianst WCC teams, including a 76-45 win over Loyola Marymount last season
Georgia returns to action, Vegas
Following a 13-day break from action, No. 13 Georgia returns to the court on Monday when it faces Gonzaga in the opening round of the Las Vegas Holiday Hoops Classic at the South Point Casino Arena.
The trip to Las Vegas is the Lady Bulldogs' second of the 2011-12 campaign. Georgia also played in UNLV's Lady Rebel Round-up over Thanksgiving. The Lady Bulldogs were originally slated to participate in New Mexico State's Thanksgiving tourney but were dropped during the summer when the Aggies changed head coaches.
The Lady Bulldogs last played on Dec. 6, an 80-43 victory over Mercer. Since then, Georgia hasn't competed while Final exams for the Fall Semester were administered on the UGA campus.
The Lady Bulldogs are 8-1 to date, with their lone setback coming to No. 21 Georgetown. Khaalidah Miller leads UGA by averaging 14.1 points per game. She is one of seven Lady Bulldogs to reach double-figures a combined 29 times this season.
Gonzaga is ranked No. 25 in the latest edition of the ESPN/USA Today coaches poll. The Bulldogs are 8-2 on the year following Saturday's win over UC Riverside. Kayla Standish, one of three returning starters from last season's "Elite Eight" squad, paces four Bulldogs averaging double figures at 16.8 points per game.
First meeting with both Vegas foes
Monday's meeting will be the Lady Bulldogs' first-ever contest with Gonzaga's Bulldogs.
In fact, Tuesday's date with Montana State is Georgia's initial matchup with the Bobcats.
Georgia is 5-1 against teams currently competing with Gonzaga in the West Coast Conference, sporting a 2-0 mark against Loyola Marymount (including a 76-45 victory last season) and 3-1 record versus Santa Clara.
The Lady Bulldogs are a perfect 5-0 against Montana State's Big Sky rivals, with single victories over Eastern Washington, Montana, Portland State, Sacramento State and Weber State.
Quoting Coach Landers
On the Gonzaga game...
"We're playing a nationally ranked team in Gonzaga. We're talking about one of the 25 best teams in the country. We're playing them at a neutral site. They provide a challenge that's unique to us so far this year in terms of their style of play. That's where our focus is...trying to come up with a scheme, a plan, the effort and the enthusiasm that we'll need to beat a top-25 team."
On having a balanced offensive attack...
"I love the idea of having a go-to player or go-to players. That's terrific. But I also love balance. I love the fact that in any given one game somebody can step up and have a big game. I think that's tough for the opposition to calculate and it makes us a better basketball team."
Last Time Out...
Jasmine Hassell scored a game-high 16 points to lead No. 14 Georgia to an 80-43 victory over Mercer on Tuesday, Dec. 6.
Khaalidah Miller added 15 points, 11 in the first half, and Anne Marie Armstrong chipped in 12. Jasmine James notched team-high tallies of eight rebounds, four assists and four steals.
Mercer grabbed an early lead and maintained an advantage until a Meredith Mitchell lay-up put Georgia up 15-14 with 9:11 remaining in the half. That bucket helped ignite a 17-2 Lady Bulldog surge that put Georgia up 29-16 at the 4:21 mark.
The Lady Bulldogs' first-half lead topped out at 16 points with 24 seconds left in the period, and Georgia continued to build on that after intermission. A 13-7 surge over the first 4:09 of the second half expanded the lead to 20.
Georgia committed a season-low nine turnovers and outscored the Bears 52-6 in the paint.
Ebony Jones saw her first action of the season, checking in with 2:16 left in the first half. Jones missed Georgia's first eight games while recovering from a posterior cruciate ligament (PCL) injury in her lefft knee.
Meredith Mitchell's roster status went from "Sr." to "Gr." on Dec. 16 when she became the 59th - of 59 - four-year letterwinners to earn their degree from the University of Georgia during Andy Landers' 33 seasons in Athens.
Mitchell secured her bachelor's in Management from UGA's Terry College of Business.
"It's a relief to be done," Mitchell said. "It's hard to believe that my undergraduate career is over. It was a little stressful this week with practice and finals but it's really just time management.".
Not only have all 59 four-year letterwinners graduated, two (Tina Taylor and Jaleesa Rhoden) actually earned three additional degrees during extra years of eligibility due to injuries. Awarding "extra credit" for those extra diplomas earned while eligible bumps the graduation rate of Landers' four-year letterwinners to 105 percent.
A really long break from games
Georgia's 13-day break represents the sixth-longest stretch between regular-season outings in Andy Landers' 33 years in Athens.
A 16-day opening in the 1991-92 schedule is the biggest chunk of time between contests. In 1981-82 and 1982-83, the Lady Bulldogs had 15-day breaks. In 1979-80 and 1993-94, Georgia enjoyed 14-day spans between playing dates.
Lady Bulldogs hold bike build
Wrenches and ratchets were put to good use on the Stegeman Coliseum concourse on Saturday, Dec. 10 as the Georgia Lady Bulldogs conducted their fifth annual Holiday Bicycle Build.
The Lady Bulldogs raised more than $2,000 to purchase bikes and helmets for worthy children. Academy Sports + Outdoors donated additional bicycles and helmets, bringing the total to approximately 60. The bikes will be distributed through schools in Athens/Clarke County and Jackson County that participated in the "Reading with the Dogs" program, as well as by the Boys & Girls Club of Athens.
Lady Bulldog players originated the idea for the program five years ago during an early-December break from competition. It has quickly become a favorite tradition of the team. All told, the Lady Bulldogs have given away approximately 275 bikes in five years.
"One of the things that makes this effort special is that it was and is the players' idea and the players' execution," head coach Andy Landers said. "From the raising of the money to the actual putting together of the bikes, this is their deal. They take great pride in that fact as do I."
Lady Bulldogs hit "magic number"
Georgia has furthered one of the greatest statistical indicators in any sport four times this season.
The Lady Bulldogs put up 83 points against TCU in the opener, 81 versus Northeastern and 85 against S.C. State and 80 at Mercer.
In the process improved to 429-7 when scoring 80 or more points during Andy Landers' 33 seasons at the University of Georgia.
That converts to an almost unfathomable winning percentage of .983944954.
Solid within the Peach State borders
Georgia is 3-0 this season in games against other schools from the Peach State, defeating Georgia Southern, Georgia Tech and Mercer.
That improved the Lady Bulldogs' all-time record versus in-state competition to 126-84 (.600).
Georgia's record versus Peach State foes took a dramatic turn after Andy Landers was named as the Lady Bulldogs' first - and still only - full-time head coach in 1979.
In the six seasons prior to Landers' arrival in Athens, Georgia was just 26-67 (.280) against home state opponents. In his 33 campaigns at UGA, Georgia has compiled a 100-17 (.855) mark versus in-state schools.
A balanced attack
Six different Lady Bulldogs have led Georgia offensively this season.
Jasmine Hassell has paced Georgia a team-best four times - against Georgia Southern, Northeastern, Georgia Tech and Mercer. Anne Marie Armstrong, Erika Ford, Jasmine James, Khaalidah Miller and Meredith Mitchell also have led the Lady Bulldogs.
Seven of 11 Lady Bulldogs - add Krista Donald to the aforementioned six - have scored in double figures at least once. All told, they have a combined 29 double-digit performances.
Freshman starters sorority grows
Krista Donald and Erika Ford added their names to an impressive list of first-year Lady Bulldogs to start for Andy Landers on Nov. 27 against Northeastern. Donald and Ford became the 68th and 69th freshmen to get the nod in Landers' 33 seasons at UGA.
Ford certainly made the most of her opportunity, posting game- and career-high tallies of 18 points and seven rebounds. Donald chipped in seven points (on 3-of-4 shooting from the floor), five rebounds and a team-best four assists.
"I thought they played very well," Landers said. "I thought Ford was great defensively and very good offensively...same thing with Donald."